Appendix 2 - LLAS Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area

Appendix 2
Materials, examples, activities for each week
Week 1 topics:
Introduction to the course;
Origins and early development of French;
Introduction to 16th century French; a sample text (Rabelais)
Highly recommended reading (for tutor and students)
 Cerquiligni B La naissance du français Que sais-je? 1991 (excellent on the
transition from Vulgar Latin to French)
 Zink G Phonétique historique du français 1994 (invaluable for tracing French
phonology back to Latin)
Study pack (covered or referred to during the week’s lecture)
 Maps: the ‘3 kingdoms’ in 843; the French ‘royal domain’, 1180-1328
 Extracts: early French texts, 842-1202 (20 lines); Rabelais, Gargantua, chs
Focal points (basic concepts, emphasised during the lecture)
 Try to make a mental picture of ‘French’ which includes variation (e.g.
dialects) and change (over centuries)
 The transition from spoken dialects of Latin (‘Vulgar Latin’) to spoken dialects
of French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, etc.
 12th c. spelling: quite close to actual pronunciation; subsequent phonological
changes outstrip spelling changes
Lecture examples (written on the board when required)
 Latin –us/-u[m], -i/-os > Italian -o, -i, Spanish –o, -os; Latin –a/-a[m], -ae/-as >
Italian –a, -e, Spanish –a, -as
 Germanic influences on Early French (cf. Arabic influences on Spanish)
 Charlemagne’s reform of Church Latin reveals and perpetuates the division
between Latin and French (in the 15th c., the same thing happens again: cf.
weeks 5 and 6: spoken and written forms)
 Some phonological and morphological features of 9th-12th c. French texts
 13th-15th c. developments: final –s/-t (etc) > silent; development of definite
articles and subject pronouns; spelling modelled on Latin: differentiation,
rapprochement; examples such as sçapvoir
 What changes were taking place in 16th c. France, affecting the development
of the French language? (see week 2)
Seminar activities (announced in advance during or at the end of the lecture)
 Rabelais extracts: pairs select and discuss salient features (not just spelling!)
and present 1-2 examples, with comments, to the class
Week 2 topics:
16th c.: making French fit to use; French vs (i) Latin, (ii) Italian;
Developments in vocabulary, pronunciation and spelling;
First attempts at codification of grammar
Highly recommended reading
 Matoré G Le vocabulaire et la société du XVIe siècle 1988
 Perret M Introduction à l’histoire de la langue française 2001 (could replace
Rickard as a prescribed book for the course)
Study pack
 Rabelais, Le tiers livre (1546) : Panurge vs Pantagruel (questioning the
(magic) link between words and things) (12 lines)
 Catach N L’orthographe (QSJ) p26-27 (influence of printers on 16th c.
 Guiraud Le moyen français (QSJ) p50-51 (origin of today’s French vocabulary
by century: 16th c.: 20%)
Focal points
 Why look at the 16th c.? The parallels with today (social and linguistic
 The status of French: centralisation of power; French vs Latin and vs Italian
 The corpus of French: need for clarity; selection of the French used around
Paris (existing corpus of literary and other texts)
 When two languages are in contact, ‘borrowings’ take place in both directions,
but the major influence is from the language of the high prestige society (e.g.
13th c.: French > Italian; 16th c.: Italian > French)
Lecture examples
 Royal/national languages: Charles V (Spain) in 1536; François 1 er in 1539; the
‘ordonnances’: centralisation in the name of clarity: ‘all legal documents’ to be
‘pronounced, registered and delivered’ in ‘langage maternel françois’
 Proportion of books printed in French (vs Latin): 1501: 1 in 10, 1575: 1 in 2
 1529-1554: proliferation of books on the French language
 Many books are translations into French (e.g. Calvin: 1536 in Latin, 1541 in
 1533: a priest is burnt at the stake for saying that people should read the
Scriptures in French
 Printing creates a new market for books, and enhances the prestige of the
written word
 The influence of printers on spelling is essentially conservative (they want to
stick to a system they and their readers know: a quick fix!)
Seminar activities
 16th c. Changes: pairs sum up the forces working for the spread of French in
France (status) and for regularisation of the language (corpus), and report to
the rest of the class. These forces will intensify in the 17th c. (see week 3)
Week 3 topics:
Codification of French from 17th-20th centuries;
French today: norms, styles and attitudes
Highly recommended reading
 Lodge R A, French from dialect to standard 1993
 Gadet F, La variation sociale en français 2003
Study pack
 Genouvrier E, Naître en français p50-51 (linguistic (in)security : Do you have
an accent (Tours, Limoges, Lille)? Do you regret this?)
 Offord M, Varieties of contemporary French p78-82 (social variation in French:
who uses a local dialect?)
 Duneton C & J P Pagliano, Anti-manuel de français p97-100 (two accounts of
a farmers’ demo in 1933 : (i) from a contemporary local newspaper, (ii) an oral
account (given in 1967) by one of the demonstrators)
Focal points
 On what basis can/should one (i) select, (ii) ‘improve’ a ‘standard’ form of the
 17th c.: political centralisation + linguistic conservatism (Acad Fr 1635-37); the
key legacy of the 17th c.: the notion that there is only one ‘correct’ version
(variation is banished from polite society)
 How to define ‘norms’: (i) the objective, statistical norm (used by
sociolinguists); (ii) subjective norms: forms which people feel are ‘correct’ and
which they (un)consciously seek to imitate
 Subjectivity: what people say and what they think they say are often quite
different; when asked, people shift their memory of what they’ve said towards
what they perceive as the norm
 ‘Marked’ and ‘unmarked’ explain and illustrate what is meant by these terms;
the 60% threshold
 Changes in social norms today (e.g. greater informality and less deference)
are reflected in more relaxed linguistic norms
 Question: if the norm changes, does that mean that the language itself has
 Social changes, urbanisation and the influence of the media (see week 4);
new forms of sociability (see week 4)
Lecture examples
 Recap from weeks 1-2: the fact of linguistic variation; selecting an ‘official’
variety creates a split between ‘standard’ and ‘non-standard’; linguistic
change: the widened gap (12th-16th c.) between written and spoken French
 Vaugelas Remarques 1647: ‘follow usage’ – but whose usage?; V himself
was tolerant, but his influence was restrictive: ‘le bon usage’, ‘les meilleurs
auteurs’; ‘the best’ are deemed to be above Reason, thus no chance for
spelling reform
17th c.: new ‘rules’ created (e.g. for relative pronouns and agreement of the
past participle) which were not, and still have not become, part of spoken
18th c.: the apogee of prestige of French outside France
1789+: The Revolution wages war on dialects; a ‘national’ language in the
service of national unity
1900: the spread of ‘French’ throughout France was far from complete (cf.
examples and commentary from the Atlas linguistique of the 1900s, week 8)
But dialects tended to converge towards regional ‘norms’
French today: two varieties exist side-by-side: standard French (accepted as
the formal norm) and everyday French (accepted for spontaneous speech)
Complexity of actual usage: ‘l’usage courant mêle constamment les niveaux’
(Désirat & Hordé, p42)
Seminar activities
 Pairs study and discuss the two texts (written and oral accounts of a demo)
and select 2-3 examples to comment on to the rest of the class: what features
distinguish the written from the spoken account? How effective is the spoken
account as communication? How has the spoken account been transcribed,
and how does it affect the reader’s attitude to the speaker? (For different
types of transcription, see week 5)
 Accommodation theory and linguistic (in)security (recall the Genouvrier
extract): survey in NW England, 2005: Do you have an accent? (79% yes);
Are you proud of your accent? (58% yes); Do you change the way you speak
depending on your interlocutor? (62% yes). Students ask each other in pairs
‘Can you recall any stage of your childhood when you changed the way you
speak (e.g. at age 5-6 or 11-12)? Describe what happened, and attempt to
say why it happened.’ ‘More recently, have you changed the way you speak?
In which direction: to merge or to differentiate? In what circumstances? With
which people? Why do you (not) do this?’ then discuss and report to the rest
of the class (or use in week 4)
Week 4 topics:
The teaching of French; Influence of the media
Highly recommended reading
 Charaudeau P (dir.) La presse. Produit, production, réception, 1988
 Charaudeau P (dir.) La télévision. Les débats culturels ‘Apostrophes’, 1991
Study pack
 Table: ‘Situational factors affecting spoken language’ (DON) (‘communication’
vs ‘communion’; basic concept: differences in ‘social distance’)
 Article: ‘uptalk’ in English (Matt Seaton, Guardian 2, 21 09 2001) (link to
Seminar activity: speaking on the phone)
 Extract: examples of spontaneous, informal French + formal equivalents
(DON, French grammar explained, 1998)
 Press articles: ‘compte rendu’ from a national magazine (Le Point) and ‘fait
divers’ from a regional newspaper (La Nouvelle République); analysis of
vocabulary, sentence construction, textual cohesion, sentence length, use of
tenses (demonstration example only: not gone over in class)
 Article: G Enjelvin ‘Invitation à dé-lire les délires langagiers des publicitaires’,
Francophonie 24, 2001, pp18-23 (showing possible categories for discussion)
 Article: V Lucci ‘L’orthographe dans la publicité moderne’ LIDIL 1, 1989, P U
Grenoble, pp67-74 (showing possible categories for discussion)
Focal points
 Influence of school (teachers, lessons, classmates) vs influence of home (cf.
week 3: 1960 study in Offord extract, p82)
 ‘Le statut de l’oral et celui de l’écrit sont fondamentalement différents’ (J
Durand, AFLS conference, UEA, Sep 1998 : l’oral – acquisition; l’écrit –
 Influence of media? Labov (PLC 2, 2001, p228): the ‘principle of interaction’:
‘Language is not systematically affected by the mass media, and is influenced
primarily in face-to-face interaction with peers’ (also for discussion in Seminar
Lecture examples
 Schools: only after 1880 did the ed. system have the means to spread a
standard (but impoverished) version of French
 The gap between ‘school’ French and the variety (or language) spoken at
home; the school system attempts to impose a ‘standard’ that only a tiny
minority could master
 This entrenches the long-standing idea that the language is in decline, has
become corrupted, etc (English: since at least 1712; French: Victor Cousin at
the Académie Française in 1843: ‘le déclin ... a commence en 1789’; Victor
Hugo: ‘à quelle heure s’il vous plait?’)
 Distance communication, eg spoken Fr in the media: the need to isolate
words from the ‘chaîne sonore’ of spoken Fr: /un désavantage à cela //
désavantage en un seul mot/ (France Inter 6 2 06); other examples of
separation of words: match-e nul, bonjour-e
Specific problems and issues of spoken French: see week 5
Seminar activities
 Extract: transcription of football commentary (J Peytard & S Moirand, Discours
et enseignement du français, 1992 pp186-89). Students discuss in pairs and
present 2-3 examples to rest of class.
 How do you (and others) speak when on the (mobile) phone? Gestures,
references to the situation; what kinds of phrase?
 Pairs > pool: find and discuss three ways in which you’d expect the language
of advertising to differ from everyday speech or written language; suggest why
Week 5 topics:
Spoken forms of French: pronunciation;
problems of transcription
Highly recommended reading
 Blanche-Benveniste C & C Jeanjean Le français parlé : transcription et édition
 Blanche-Benveniste C Approches de la langue parlée en français 1997
 Lindenfeld J Speech and sociability at French urban marketplaces 1990
 Goody J The interface between the written and the oral 1987, esp ch 11
‘Language and writing’ (use also for week 6)
Study pack
 Should include: audio and video extracts + transcription
 Tables of French verbs and consonants (IPA) (e.g. from C Féry JFLS 13/2
2003 p249-250)
 Extract: Adamcziewski H Le français déchiffré (A Colin 1991 p50-55) : Arabic :
3 Vs ; Spanish, Russian : 5 Vs ; problems for e.g. Spanish speakers when
pronouncing French, e.g. /deux menus/ ([ø], schwa and /y/)
 Extract : Blanche-Benveniste & Jeanjean Le français parlé : transcription et
édition (1987 p179-80) : example of transcription convention
 Extracts and examples: Blanche-Benveniste Approches de la langue parlée
en français (1997 p74-75 and 82-85) (recording and transcribing corpora for
studying grammatical contexts and lexical collocations)
 Extract and figures: N Lewy et al (JFLS 15/1 2005 p36-38: simulated word
recognition models (fascinating demonstration of the process by which we
deduce a word from incomplete data)
Focal points
 This is the stage at which the course should come to life, not only because of
the inherent fascination of phonological examples carefully chosen and
presented, but because the tutor can begin to build on basic knowledge and
concepts introduced in the previous weeks. It is also time to broaden the
scope of the course to include examples from other languages (some
students will know, know about or even be studying one or more of these
languages, and will be encouraged by making connections between these
languages and French and English)
 A crucial point in the course: helping students see ‘sounds’ in a new light (the
written forms of English exercise a very strong influence on how anglophone
students ‘picture’ sounds); students need to recognise the IPA symbols for at
least some Vs and Cs
 ‘Oppositions’: the sound system of any language is based on significant
oppositions (e.g. long/short V in English heat/hit); some oppositions which are
significant in some languages are not significant in others (e.g. Spanish s/sh
or Irish t/th)
 Vowels (on board): the ‘vowel box/triangle’); Arabic: 3 Vs, Spanish: 5 Vs;
French schwa/œ do not exist in Spanish or Italian
Vowel ‘affinities’ (e.g. in changes from Latin to French/Italian/Spanish): /o/ and
/u/, /e/ and /i/: vital for tracing words e.g. from Latin to modern Romance
Consonant ‘affinities’ (on board): p/t/k, f/s (unvoiced), b/d/g, v/z (voiced); also
vital for tracing words e.g. from Latin to modern Romance languages (ask any
student familiar with Welsh to describe ‘lenition’ of initial consonants)
Specific examples (on board): k > g > ø: Latin kw (aqua) > Spanish gw (agua)
> New World Spanish w (awa); Breton [G]wened > French Vannes
Loss of H: Old German Johan(na) > Old French Jehan(ne) > Modern French
Lecture examples
 Languages can incorporate new sounds into their sound system, e.g. Dutch
/g/ (as a result of using words from other languages). (Northern) French
speakers have ‘learnt’ the English /ng/, largely through hearing and using
words ending in –ng; this development begins with a period of
fluctuation/hesitation lasting for a few decades (early pronunciations of
‘parking’ included –ine, -inge) before the new pronunciation passes the 60%
threshold (see week 3) and becomes unmarked
 Sometimes a pronunciation introduced as an affectation (e.g. 16 th c.: Parisian
/z/ for /r/) sticks in the case of individual words (chaire > chaise; but see week
8 for the gradual diffusion of this change throughout France). And in English?
(mention nicknames, and the examples will flow: Gary/Gareth > Gaz(za),
Sharon > Shaz(za) etc; not to mention /r/ > /l/: Terry > Tel, Derek > Del ...)
 17th c. controversies between the ‘ou-istes’ and the ‘non-ou-istes (cf. week 3)
involved both pronunciation and spelling (chouse/chose etc)
 Spelling: the influence of spelling on pronunciation: people try to bring
together what they speak and what they see
 Silent final consonants (widely established by the 16th c. – see week 1): some
of these have become restored, e.g. 19th c. fils (/fi/ > /fis/), but others
continued to be stigmatised as ‘lower-class’ (estomac: /-a/ not /-ak/)
 Today, the final consonant in a few other words has been restored (with
varying degrees of acceptability): les os; le coût; en fait; quand-t before a
following consonant
 Reasons for these changes? the need to separate individual words when
speaking on radio/TV/phone etc (cf. week 4: communion/communication)
 Transcription: recall the transcription of the farmer’s account of a demo (week
3) ‘unscientifically’ used to emphasise the speaker’s social class
Seminar activities
 Many numerals have regained their final consonant, e.g. cinq, six, sept, neuf,
dix (but note six/dix in liaison: /z/). Question pour les plus futés: how to explain
that one says neuf /v/ ans and neuf /v/ heures but neuf /f/ arbres, neuf /f/
elephants (etc)?
 Class survey: is your ‘image’ of a word primarily visual (its spelling) or how it
sounds? > class discussion (hopefully coming to the conclusion that in
‘literate’ societies, our image of a word is necessarily dual)
 What about languages with wholly separate written and spoken systems (e.g.
Chinese)? (see week 6)
Week 6 topics:
Written forms of French: spelling;
Spoken and written grammar
Highly recommended reading
 Désirat & Hordé La langue française au XXe siècle (1976, but good surveys
of many issues, e.g. l’écrit et le parlé ; it was the basic textbook in the early
years of this course)
 Catach N L’orthographe en débat 1991 (esp. ch 6)
 McWhorter J The power of Babel 2002 (esp. p227-8)
 Hewson J The cognitive system of the French verb 1997 (esp. p2-11)
Study pack
 Chinese: interview with F Naour (Lire 4/2004 p143): W & S systems; the
pitfalls of ‘pinyin’ transcription; how ‘grammar’ works in Chinese)
 Spelling in the 18th c.: extract from J Orieux (Voltaire p317) : text of a letter of
1746 from ‘un petit seigneur du Poitou’ to his uncle vilifying Voltaire (use in
 French ‘disguised’ in writing: cartoon ‘Vouzaléou’, J Faizant Le Point 28 06
1976: French speakers expect written French to be very different from the
sounds of French (seminar activity)
 Letter from prison ‘Pas de chance’ Le Monde 20 03 1977 (seminar activity:
pairs > pool : how far does this letter succeed in communicating its
 Tables from N Catach L’orthographe QSJ 1988 p66-67: degrees of
correspondence between sound and spelling in French: some are 100%, but
others less than 50%; p114: words whose spelling is most often confused by
pupils (use in lecture)
 Spelling reform: chronological table ‘Quatre siècles de réformes mort-nées’ Le
Monde de l’Éducation Jan 1976: a useful list of the problems and the issues
 Article: ‘Les enfants de l’école primaire et le passé simple’ Recherches du
français parlé 8 1988 p137-148: how children perceive the Past Historic
(example of the effects of the teaching of French in schools : cf. week 4)
(seminar activity : pairs > pool)
Focal points
 Speakers of English or French (etc) take for granted some degree of
correspondence between sounds and written symbols (cf. week 5: our ‘image’
of a word is part sound, part symbol)
 We try to bring together sounds and symbols; recall week 1: when in the 800s
and again in the 1400s the Latin spoken in churches was ‘reformed’ to make it
sound like ‘Classical’ Latin, it became incomprehensible to the congregation:
Church Latin became distinct from the language of the people
 The consequences for Latin were that (i) it became fixed, unchangeable and
(ii) based entirely on written forms: in short, a dead language. Whereas the
various Romance languages (i) continued to develop and (ii) were based on
speech plus growing literacy: in short, they were living languages
 Chinese: a logographic language (from pictograms to logograms). Imagine
that ‘1, 2, 3’ etc was the only way to write ‘one, two, three’ etc, and that this
was the only convention for writing down all English words! In Chinese, one
symbol = one word/concept/notion
Advantage for China of the written system (characters): a unified system for
the whole of China; disadvantage: no unity between spoken Mandarin and
Cantonese (there are many other spoken systems in China); also: the ‘tonal’
systems – Mandarin: 2-3 tones; Cantonese: 4-5 tones
Japanese: some characters are logograms, others are phonological symbols
How a language deals with (i) grammar, (ii) meaning; constraint vs convention
Latin: gender and number of nouns, person of verbs are shown by endings;
French: these are shown by articles and subject pronouns; Arabic, Hebrew:
consonants convey meaning, vowels convey grammar (noun, adjective, verb;
tense, person, etc)
‘Grammar’ is a system for conveying meaning through language; this system
takes many different forms in different languages, and even in different states
and varieties of a particular language. Much of what is taught as the ‘rules of
grammar’ of a language consists in fact of stylistic conventions: one
grammatical construction has come to be regarded as ‘correct’, while an
equally grammatical alternative is seen as ‘incorrect’
Lecture examples
 On board:
communication of meaning
through the sound system through the graphic system
Most of the 6000 languages in the world have only a sound system, no
graphic system
In languages such as English or French, the S & W systems work together to
convey meaning (sometimes imperfectly; some would say that in the case of
French, the S & W systems are relatively autonomous; A Sauvageot Français
écrit, français parlé p181: pour apprendre le français, deux tâches: ‘celle
d’apprendre la langue en elle-même et ensuite celle d’apprendre comme elle
se déguise dans l’écriture’); in Chinese, the two systems are entirely separate
(draw || between the 2 systems)
Recall week 1: modern French spelling broadly reflects 12th c. French sounds
Spelling reform: 1635-1835, steady reform; role of Ac Fr and its dictionary;
1835-1990: stagnation; 1990: the most recent attempt at reform
How we acquire ‘grammar’: implicit grammar (acquired between the ages of 3
and 5); explicit grammar (cf. week 3: codification): descriptive or prescriptive
Hypothesis about the brain: that we have two processing systems (i) lexical
(lists, items): words, phrases, irregular verb forms; (ii) syntax (rules): patterns,
When a child successively says (i) brought (ii) bringed (iii) brought, it is first
using system (i) (awareness of lexical item as a unit), then system (ii)
(awareness of syntactical pattern: bring + -ed as marker of past tense); finally
(i) and (ii) are brought together (awareness of lexical exceptions to the -ed
One consequence: irregular verb forms, if infrequently used, tend to die out
(English wrought > worked); also: loss of irregular plural forms in English: 13th
c. bôc > bêc (book[s]); 14th c. eyn (eyes); 16th c. kine (cows)
Proved (19th c.) or proven (21st c.)?; US vs UK English: UK dived, US dove
(scope here for the tutor’s pet choice of examples!)
Negation: Old English ‘Ic ne can noht singan’; 1500s: I can’t sing
nothing/anything: loss of ‘ne’ (as in Modern French)
Seminar activities
 What English and French make of Arabic: ‘Tickety-boo’; (where) have you
heard this? What does it mean? Arabic ti katib u: k+t+b = anything to do with
books (kitab = a book), writing, libraries, etc; tikatibu = you write
 ‘Salamalecs’ (French: ‘bowing and scraping’); Arabic greeting salaam alaikum
= ‘peace be with you’: s+l+m = anything to do with peace, submission (salaam
= being at peace; muslim = one who causes to be at peace; islam =
submitting to God (also Hebrew ‘shalom’, ‘Jerusalem’)
 Spelling in the age of text messaging
 Is there an essential difference between written grammar and spoken
 Thinking of your own experience of (i) English, (ii) foreign languages, would
you say that spoken forms of a language are acquired, while written forms are
Week 7 topics:
How the vocabulary changes: ‘borrowed’ words; dictionaries;
word frequencies; changes of meaning; new words,
combinations, suffixation; abbreviation; names of professions
Highly recommended reading
 Posner R Linguistic change in French 1997 (good for most topics on the
 Müller B Le français d’aujourd’hui 1985 (good for most topics on the course)
 CNRS/INaLF Femme, j’écris ton nom 1999
Study pack
 A dossier de presse on la féminisation des noms de métier
 Extract: where does the French vocabulary come from?: list of sources in R
Posner Linguistic change in French 1997 p164-5
 Word frequencies: lists in B Müller Le français d’aujourd’hui 1985 p128-9 : (i)
uses of ‘Le français fondamental’ (1950s) ; (ii) use of computer corpora in
compiling dictionary entries
 List of verb frequency counts in N Catach L’orthographe QSJ 1988 p122-3
(irregular verbs top the list: why? - cf. week 6 on how grammar is acquired)
 Articles from English and French press on féminisation des noms de métier
Focal points
 Time, at last, to look at the basic currency of a language, its vocabulary. Bring
to bear on this vast topic the concepts etc used in weeks 1-6
 What happens to words that are ‘borrowed’: changes in pronunciation,
spelling ... and meaning
 Language and society: the issue of the feminisation of names of professions
etc illustrates how language both reflects and shapes society, and the
difficulties involved in changing language in response to social changes (e.g.
‘la présidente’, ‘la générale’ formerly referred to the wife of the chairman, the
general, but ‘une ouvrière’ meant a working woman; now, une écrivaine, une
auteure, une professeure are commonly used, but only after decades of
debate and challenge)
Lecture examples
 Categories and examples of how the French vocabulary has grown can be
found in many books and articles: this lecture should not be overloaded with
 Dictionaries: high turnover of entries, e.g. 10% of words added or dropped in
11 years’ editions of the Petit Larousse illustré (source: D&H p159-161)
 What is a word? (Trésor de la langue française : 500 000 entries ; Le petit
Robert, Le petit Larousse : 50 000-80 000 ; most people’s active vocabulary :
8 000 words ; the plays of Racine : 2941 words (+ proper nouns)
 How new words are integrated (e.g. parking, etc: week 5); phonic adaptation:
/-er/ vs /-eur/: ‘supporter’; ‘standard’: silent /-d/; gender, number: la pop-music;
/-ys/ vs /-ies/; spelling (cf. week 6: spelling reforms): graffitis, referendums;
word order, e.g. standing ovation
‘Derivation’: adding a prefix or a suffix etc
Abbreviation/truncation (see also week 9: slang); acronyms
Examples of words that have shuttled between English and French, e.g.
étiquette > ticket > ticket; tonneau > tunnel > tunnel; la malle-poste > mail,
post > la poste; email > mail/courriel (see also week 10)
Change of meaning: Latin racemus (a bunch) > French une grappe de raisins
(a bunch of bunches!; English ‘a bunch of grapes’ is another bunch of
How meaning changes: example (on board) of the ‘space’ occupied by ouïr –
entendre – comprendre; use OHP of Map from Atlas p299; note that c1900
ouïr was still used in W & E Fr, and écouter in parts of C Fr (regional
distribution of different words for the same object or concept: cf. week 8)
Example (on board) of the processes involved when a new word is needed for
a new object: carriage/voiture > horseless carriage/voiture automobile > motor
car/automobile > motor/auto > car/voiture: ‘voiture’ has come back with a new
Words can become overloaded with meanings and connotations; borrowings
help lighten the load on an existing word, and provide a new word with less
‘baggage’; e.g. ‘clean’, ‘feeling’. But even new words soon collect barnacles of
meaning and use! (e.g. ‘au feeling’)
Phrases can be used with both a positive and a negative meaning (see week
6: grammar: negation): (ne pas) faire long feu = to fail; cf. English ‘no
question’: can mean ‘no doubt’, or ‘out of the question’. This can change over
centuries: 17th c. se passer de = to make do with, 21st c. se passer de = to do
National and regional differences and similarities: the case of ‘right’ and ‘left’.
French ‘droit(e)’: opposed to (i) to ‘indirect’, (ii) ‘gauche’; Frankish (cf. week 1:
early Germanic influences on French) ‘wenkjan’ (faire des détours) > Old
French ‘guenchir’ > ‘gauchir’ > ‘gauche’. Latin senestre > Italian sinistra, but
Basque esker > Spanish/Catalan/Portuguese and even S French (see 1900
Seminar activities
 Dictionary entries and definitions have to follow usage: why? But whose
usage should they follow? (cf. 17th c., Vaugelas, week 3)
 Students as ‘creators’ of new words: pairs > pool: how many words can you
make up (by derivation etc) around (i) ‘stress’ (first recorded in 1951), e.g.
‘stressant’ (1953); which of your coinings do you think are in use in French?
 Feminisation: despite the campaign for women to have ‘feminised’ titles (e.g.
une professeure), there is still resistance to these changes from many men
and some women: Madame le directeur, rather than Madame la directrice:
 In English, female stage or screen actors are often referred to as ‘actor’, not
‘actress’: why? What does this tell us about (i) French and British society, (ii)
how status and meaning interact?
Week 8 topics;
Variation and change: regional and social variation
Highly recommended reading
 Brun-Trigaud G et al Lectures de l’Atlas linguistique de la France: du temps
dans l’espace CTHS 2005 (a treasure trove of data on lexical and
phonological diffusion. Essential study in order to visualise the abstract
concepts of ‘variation’ and ‘change’ at work. The combination of clear maps
from the 1900s and brief, judicious commentary from the 2000s, is stunning!)
Study pack
 Terminology: definitions of diachronic/diatopic/diastratic/diaphasic variation:
time/place/social/situational (DON)
 Extract: R Posner Linguistic change in French p72-76, esp p76-77 (list of
some syntactic and phonological variables)
 Extract: R Posner Linguistic change in French p82-83 (brings together several
features discussed in the course, e.g. tomber/choir; chaire/chaise)
 Maps: P Rossillon (dir.) Atlas de la langue française 1995 p20-21 (or any
similar maps from other sources showing phonological distributions, e.g.
Walter p167, 169, 171 ; 138, 176)
 Example of Normandy French: B Alexandre Le horsain Pocket 1988 p252-5
 Example of ch’timi: poem with French translation
 Example from rural Touraine: L Veau J’avions point fini d’causer p10-13
Focal points
 Weeks 7 & 8 are perhaps the summit of the course, where the concepts
acquired in weeks 1-6 can really be put to work, enabling fresh insights into (i)
vocabulary and (ii) the whole issue of variation and change.
 Variation does not cause change, but it opens the door to change
 Variation is ‘the normal state of species’ (S Wells, The journey of man, 2002),
and is the normal state of a (living) language
 In practice, there is constant fluctuation, mingling and overlap in terms of
styles and registers (cf. seminar activities, weeks 3 & 4); F Gadet 2003:
‘variété’, ‘variation’ – these are abstractions: we all mix and move, and are
exposed to a wide variety of sources in our own language
 Definition of a ‘speech community’: one where despite variation (accents etc)
people can understand one another
 Terminology (Posner): language shift is when speakers move from using a
local variety to a more centralised standard – a whole way of speaking
changes; language change refers to the spread or loss of a linguistic feature
(word, phrase, etc); this can be discerned only when the process has
 How change happens: even language change is a form of shift, for example
as a result of a change in the norm. A sound itself does not change gradually;
a different sound is gradually adopted by more speakers until it becomes the
 How to identify possible change: (i) if a variation corresponds to clear sociosituational levels, it is not in itself a sign of instability; (ii) if there is socio-
situational variation between or by similar speakers, this suggests pressures
on the linguistic system, and there is a possibility of change
(If time!) Grimm’s Law on sound change; Labov (PLC 1 & 2): who leads/what
causes change?
Lecture examples
 Words pass from dialect > standard or, via the media, in the other direction;
also (languages in contact) between languages (cf. week 2 French and Italian;
week 10 French and English)
 Brief information on suppression of regional dialects under the IIIe
République; IVe, Ve Républiques: all French people can function in French,
so it now becomes ‘safe’ to protect and even encourage regional languages
and dialects within France without threatening the linguistic unity of the
Republic; mention current controversies
 Show and comment on slides of pages from the Lectures de l’Atlas
linguistique (see Recommended reading): faire, p33; chaise, p76; couteau,
p250; c/ch, p262; numerals, p320-1
Seminar activities
 Variation and change: if different generations in a family or other group use
different forms (accent, morpho-syntax), why is this not necessarily a sign of
linguistic change?
 Recall ‘accommodation’ (week 3) and students’ personal examples of this
when they move between different communities. Pairs > pool: identify
words/expressions which you use/hear/understand, but which your partner
doesn’t; classify and present to rest of class
 How change happens: do you say English ‘schedule’ as /sh-/ or as /sk-/?
(recall 60% threshold marked > unmarked: is this a change in progress?)
 Samples of regional varieties (Normandy, Picardie, Touraine) from Study
pack: tutor reads a couple of short extracts (authentic accent not
guaranteed!); pairs discuss, identify features and present comments to rest of
 (Possible coursework assignment: transcription and analysis of brief passage
of regional French)
Week 9 topics:
Non-standard French; slang
Highly recommended reading
 Gadet F Le français populaire QSJ 1992
 Calvet L J L’argot QSJ 1994
Study pack
 Set far less preparation in the final two weeks of the course: students are
preoccupied with their second coursework assignment, and with the looming
 Extracts on the vitality of non-standard French: H Bauche Le langage
populaire (1920/1928) p10-11, 14, 28-31
 Selection of recent articles from English and French press on French
Focal points
 19th and 20th c.: ghettoisation of ‘le français populaire’ (cf. Bauche extracts)
 Essential to see ‘slang’ as one sub-variety of non-standard French
Lecture examples
 Examples of non-standard French, e.g. dislocation, ne-drop, non-standard
que; loss of final /-l/, /-r/ (cf. week 6, grammar: ‘constraint’ vs convention)
 Vocabulary: recall week 7 (words are the small change of a language: they
come and go, move up and down the social scale, quickly and easily)
 Brief recall of emergence of argot(s) in the 16th c. and before
 19th and 20th c: people become aware of slang, and reject it
 20th and 21st c.: slang as an object of academic study ...
 Verlan (see Study pack); case study: arabe > beur > rebe(u). 1986: beur in
italics (Lire); 1990 ‘histoire d’une jeune beur’ (in book title); 2003 beurette
(describing a Government minister); ‘mi-“beurgeoise”, mi-rebeu’ (Nouvel
 Verlan + Arabic elements: a return to the original raison d’être of slang: group
Seminar activities
 Two characteristics of spoken language: (i) brevity (truncation, parataxis etc),
(ii) extension (fillers, repetition etc). Pairs discuss and present their ideas to
the rest of the class; economy of effort (i) vs time to think (ii)
 How is meaning negotiated (cf. week 7)?
 How do neologisms emerge and crystallise?
 Bauche (p31) calls la langue littéraire ‘une sorte d’argot’ : why ?
 The meaning of words is always open to negotiation (‘les deux locuteurs sont
partie prenante dans la construction sociale du sens’, F Gadet 2003 p110);
this is especially apparent with new slang words, e.g. ‘wicked’ = good, not
bad. How would you explain to a Martian the meaning of (i) bling, (ii) funky?
 In recent decades, many slang words have passed into everyday use: why?
Slang: what could be the consequences of publicising slang words and
phrases in newspapers and magazines?
Week 10 topics:
The ‘defence’ of French;
The future for French: its use; its standard forms
Highly recommended reading
 Hagège C Le français, histoire d’un combat Livre de Poche 1998
Study pack
 Extract: C Hagège Le français, histoire d’un combat Livre de Poche 1998 p9697 (language and power: quote from Gentleman’s Magazine (1814) : the
French language is seen in England as a vehicle for French political influence)
 Articles on language controversies in France, e.g. 2004 B Pivot vs M Druon
on how to ‘defend’ French (i) in France (ii) abroad
 1994: la loi Toubon (‘Mr Allgood’) – press and Web articles
 Article: spoof ‘German’ text ‘English über Alles’, New York Times 9 11 1990
(hierarchy of ‘English’ words/phrases: 1 vocabulary (esp. nouns), 2 syntax, 3
morphology, 4 phonology)
Focal points
 Languages in contact (cf. week 2: French and Italian): the role of prestige and
of new notions, objects, processes etc
 Status (planning) vs corpus (planning): essential to distinguish these, but also
to understand how both status and corpus are often ‘in play’ together; the
debate, and some proposed ‘remedies’ in France, tend to confuse the two.
 Change : a sign that a language is living, not dead (cf. weeks 1 and 6: Latin);
the importance of the integration of new terms
Lecture examples
 International status of French: at its peak in the 18th c.; 19th c.: start of decline
(in our generation, dominance is passing more and more to the English
language’, J Lemoine, 1859, quoted by T Zeldin). 20th c.: 1919 the Versailles
Treaties; 1945 the UN: French fights for its place internationally
 Today: the Institut Pasteur publishes its journal in English, as do many other
scientific publications
 Statistics (on board): language of original draft of EU/EC documents:
1970 F 60% G 40%
1986 F 58%
1989 F 50% G 9% E 30%
1997 F 40%
E 45%
2003 F 30%
European Council: 1997 F 42% E 42% 2003 F 28% E 59% [CHECK
 Corpus issues: case study ‘computer’ (recall week 7: ‘stress’ etc): how come
the French say ordinateur and not computer? 1955 ‘ordinateur’, 1960
‘informatique’; 1985 ‘matériel, logiciel’ (hard/software); today: bureautique,
progiciel (software package); courriel (email), pourriel (spam, Nouvel
Observateur 2004)
Bilingual individuals: may use one language for H situations and the other for
L situations (status) – or a mixture! Corpus: they may produce ‘mixed’
utterances containing chunks/items from both languages
Language change can only be detected once it has happened (cf. week 8): so
what can we say about ‘the future of French’?
Concluding statement: the importance of language: human vs non-human; as
a means of self-expression, self-knowledge and knowledge of others and of
the world; in the creation and diffusion of culture (e.g. literature, theatre)
Seminar activities
 Languages losing status tend to have their corpus invaded by a dominant
second language (e.g. English after 1066): does the accumulation of
quantitative changes (e.g. words from another language) lead to a qualitative
change (i.e. a wholly new language)?
 Corpus question: is it worth trying to develop home-grown alternatives to
borrowings (e.g. ordinateur)? Why? How? (i.e. what are the conditions for
 Implications of our knowledge of bilingual individuals for language planning in
bilingual countries/regions, e.g. where all people have English as their second
language: will the corpus of their first language be affected by its status, or will
their first language be fully preserved and used e.g. at home and among
 Languages in contact: always a 2-way exchange (cf. week 2, French and
Italian). Which French words and phrases are commonly used in English
 Quote for discussion: ‘L’extension et la disparition des langues ne dépend
aucunement de leur constitution organique, mais bien des qualités et des
succès des hommes qui les parlent, c’est-à-dire de circonstances purement
historiques’ (G Paris, 1868 ; M Foucault, 1966, takes the opposite view). Pairs
discuss > pool ideas: What/who influences a language? How do you know?
 A Frenchman has said that by the end of the 21st c. the French language
would no longer exist: what is the basis, if any, for this remark? and the